fbpx

What is Mobility Training and How Can it Help You?

When we talk about mobility training, often times people equate it to yoga and stretching, but this isn’t the case! When you take a mobility class with me, I’m referring to a particular movement system called Functional Range Conditioning. It’s a system that is used frequently with high level pro-athletes, cirque du soleil, and physical therapy. But what exactly is it and what can you expect in one of one of my mobility classes?

What is Mobility?

Mobility is your ability to move your body without an outside force acting on it. It is strength and flexibility combined. Stretching helps your flexibility, which you need in order to do mobility training. Mobility is your ability to use your flexibility in your everyday life. It is the practical side.

Here’s an example of flexibility vs. mobility:

Flexibility

Lay on your back with a strap, scarf, or belt. Take your right foot into the strap and extend your leg up towards the ceiling. Notice how straight you can get the leg and also how much you can pull it towards your face using the strap. The strap is your outside force bringing you into your flexibility in this scenario

Mobility

Do this same exercise using ONLY your leg. No strap – no hands. Can you get the leg to the same point that it was with the outside force? Probably not. You want this gap between your flexibility and mobility to be closed.

Why You Need to do Mobility Training:

Because use it or lose it is real.

In mobility classes you use your joints in every direction they’re supposed to move – which we as humans at desks typically don’t do every day. When you stop doing a movement, your brain makes room for things you actually use in your daily activities. So when you stop frequently bringing your arm behind you, your brain says “oh we don’t need to remember how to perform this well because we don’t do it often,” and then it makes space for the activities we do frequently.

Our bodies also want to feel strong. In order for your brain to allow you to access a particular range of motion, it has to feel safe going into that movement. If you can create strength at your joints, it signals to your brain that it’s safe to move them.

Mobility training moves your joints in every direction and then strengthens them so your body knows it’s safe to bring them into bigger ranges of motion.

Tightness is your brain’s way of telling you something is off. It could be because of an older injury that your body doesn’t want you to move in a particular direction. It could also be a lack of stability and strength. So when we do mobility work we’re telling our body that it can release that tightness because we’re strong in the range of motion we’re trying to put our body into.

Who Is Mobility Training For?

Literally everyone. For our joints to be healthy they have to move. And they have to be strong. Mobility training is for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy and strong body. Age doesn’t matter and neither does your starting flexibility.

Got Questions? Drop me a comment below or shoot me an email kateformanyoga@gmail.com. If you want to take your first mobility class, head to the link below to sign up!

2 Tips to Find Balance in High Lunges

If you’ve ever struggled with balance when coming into a high lunge in yoga, or finding a twist in a high lunge, here are 2 tips to teach you how to find your stabilizer muscles in these poses.

The key to balance in high lunge positions is to use your inner thighs. In general, it’s the slightest alignment tweaks that will help with this.

Tip #1: Even Out Your Pelvis

Pull the front leg’s side of the hip slightly back, and reach the back leg’s side of the hip slightly forwards.

Doing this will create the alignment in the pelvis that will help fire those inner thigh stabilizer muscles.

You can also think of the fronts of your hips like headlights on a car. If they’re shining slightly to the right or left, your “car” will go to the right or left, but if they’re directly forwards your “car” will move forwards. This is very slight, so you could even look down at your hips to make sure they’re even rather than relying solely on feel.

Tip #2: Make Sure Your Back Foot is Pointing Totally Forwards

This might feel really awkward at first for some of you, but it will help you find your inner thigh muscles eventually. You can do this starting by holding onto something until it starts to feel more natural.

Often times the back foot is either turned in or turned out – this changes how we can access our inner thigh muscles, so making sure the back foot’s big toe mound and pinky toe mound are firmly rooted and the toes are facing forwards is key for balancing in high lunges.

If you’re a visual person, I also have a YouTube video about how to find balance in a high lunge that will help you out:

Drop me a comment and let me know if this was helpful for your high lunges and if you have any questions!

For even more tips on balance, check out my other blog post: “4 Tips for Better Balance in Yoga”

2 Side Plank Tips for Shoulder Discomfort

I was recently asked about ways to navigate shoulder discomfort in side plank, and I think this is a pretty common problem so I wanted to send an email to you in case you also have this question.

So, assuming you have non-injured shoulders (that’s a different conversation and one that needs to be tailored to you), there could be a few reasons your shoulders bug you during a side plank.

#1: You’re Not Using Your Legs Enough

One reason is that you’re relying entirely too much on your upper body to hold your entire body up. Side planks are actually just as much about your lower body. What I mean by this is that you need to be driving your feet into the floor soooo much that your hips just pop right up. If you’re not doing this, your hips will lower towards the ground, which will make the entire pose feel SUPER heavy. So that’s step #1: make sure you’re driving your feet into the floor and keep your hips bumping up towards the ceiling.

#2: You’re Internally Rotating Your Shoulder

Another common mistake I see in side planks is internally rotating the shoulder of that’s supporting you in the pose. Internal rotation is a harder place to stabilize your shoulder than external rotation. You want to be externally rotating your shoulder, which will give your shoulder more strength and stability to help hold you up in the pose.

If you’re not sure of the difference between internal and external rotation, don’t worry – I got you! Check out this video below and it will show you the difference between an internally rotated shoulder side plank and an externally rotated shoulder side plank. There are subtitles if you need to turn the sound off 🙂

Give those tips a try and then let me know how your shoulders feel! And if you have any questions, chances are you’re not alone, drop me a comment and ask away!

P.S. If you want even more tips on how to perfect your side plank, click here to check out my other blog post here for even more!

Creating Stability in Yoga

If I could offer 1 suggestion, or thought, that would have a drastic impact on your yoga practice – or any movement practice really – dance, weightlifting – anything – it would be to ask yourself the following question:

How can I create more stability?

In order to move well, our body needs to feel stable. The more we find stability in our joints, the more freedom of movement we’re going to have. (If you want to know more about this, click here and check out my blog post about why you’re tight).

Stability is different than tightness or stiffness. It’s strength, and it’s control, and it’s support – at the joint.

To be honest, that question is pretty vague – you might be asking yourself now, ok…so how do I even know if I’m finding more stability?

Here’s a good place to start:

Our body draws stability from 3 different areas in the body:

  1. Shoulders
  2. Core
  3. Glutes (your butt)

The best way to know if you’re creating stability in a joint is to use something called isometrics. Basically, this means you’re engaging an area of the body without moving anything.

Here are some examples:

Holding a plank pose is an example of an isometric for your shoulders and core (and glutes if you focus on that).

Doing a crunch would not be an isometric for your core because you are bending your spine to do the movement.

As long as your body has stability in 2 of 3 of these areas, you will move better. If you can find stability in all 3, you’re going to be moving the best (but that’s not always possible, depending on the exercise or pose).

Here’s are more examples of an isometric action:

One way you can try to find an isometric is to try to drag your feet or hands apart from each other or towards each other. Both are isometrics. Both will feel different depending on the body performing the action.

Next time you’re in a warrior pose, pull your feet towards each other – again remember they won’t move, but you’ll feel muscles engage.

Next time you’re in plank, imagine you could tug your hands back, or in, or away from each other – try all of these and see what feels best on your shoulders.

Ask yourself: Am I stabilizing in 2 of the 3 zones of stability in my body (shoulders, core, glutes)?

How can I engage more muscles here?

Get curious. Play around with it and see what you can feel.

I’d love to hear what you discover! Drop me a comment and let me know what you’ve found works for you in creating stability.

4 Tips for Better Balance in Yoga

If balance is something you’re working on or struggling with, then this is the post for you! Whether it’s tree pose, standing poses, lunges, or anything else, these 4 tips are key for finding balance in yoga.

Here are 4 tips to help nail your balance in your next yoga classes:

1. The Tripod Foot

When you’re struggling with balance, chances are you’re not evenly rooting into your foot. But what does that mean? Look for the big toe mound, pinky toe mound, and your heel – notice where you put your pressure and see if you can evenly distribute the weight of your body over those 3 points of the foot.

2. Your Hip Placement

Next time you’re in a tree pose or a high lunge, ask yourself where your hip is in space. Often times people who struggle with balance tend to sink into their outer hip. What this looks like is the hip shoots off to the side instead of being stacked over the ankle (or in line with the knee if it’s a lunge). Make sure you’re pushing into your foot and that should draw the hip underneath you more in a tree pose. In a lunge, try pushing your knee out and pulling your hip back and in – You’ll feel the change in your outer hip muscles.

Click here to check out my YouTube video about how to fix your high lunge for better stability and balance.

3. Stacking

Stacking refers to where your pelvis, ribs, and head are in space. People typically lean forwards or back without realizing it in one of these areas. Try to make sure:

  1. Your outer hip is stacked over your outer ankle.
  2. Your ribs are stacked over your hips – not leaning forwards or back.
  3. And that your head is evenly stacked on top.

Another way of looking at this is to think of your pelvis like a bowl of water – try not to spill the water forwards or backwards. Your ribcage like a lampshade shining light directly down into your pelvic bowl – make sure the light isn’t shining forwards or back – even in the slightest. And then your head just stacks directly over the lampshade.

4. Your Muscles Need to Engage Correctly

Are you feeling your inner thighs when you’re working on balance? You should be. These inner thigh muscles help hold you steady and stabilize your pelvis.

Are you feeling your glutes? You should be. This also helps with pelvic stability.

And finally your core – this helps with core stability but also pelvic stability and will ensure that your stacking (#3) is correct.

Once your stacking is out of whack, your core will have a harder time firing, so if you’re struggling with feeling your core, go back to #3 (maybe ask a friend for help setting you up) and see if you’re stacked well.

Give these 4 tips a try and then let me know in the comments how your balance is feeling!

Chaturanga: How to Master the Yoga Pushup

Chaturanga is probably one of the hardest poses in a vinyasa yoga class to master. If you’re not sure what Chaturanga is, it’s effectively a pushup in yoga. There really isn’t anything different about the yoga version or the one that you would do when you’re working out. 

A pushup is basically just a moving plank. You want to keep the plank position the whole time, and just bend your elbows to lower to the ground. Don’t let your hips drop. If you want a visual on this check out my youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zztQSf9MSk

There are 3 stages to a Chaturanga or pushup. Here are techniques you can do that will help you build strength for these 3 stages.

The 3 Phases of Chaturanga:

  1. Lowering from Plank
  2. Pausing for a split second halfway down in your pushup position
  3. Pushing up from that halfway position into upward facing dog

Here are some tips to master each phase of chaturanga:

Phase 1: Lowering Down

Rather than trying to lower from the full plank position, drop to your knees and lower from there. Make sure your knees are slightly behind your hips so you’re in a plank-like position. Here are some more specific tips to mastering this phase:

  • Lower all the way to the ground to start – master this action first
  • If lowering to the ground is hard and you find that you start to “plop” towards the end of the move, bring the ground closer to you – grab yoga blocks, or pillows and lower to those instead.
    • Stack them as high as you need to to feel like you have control over the movement and that you’re doing it well.
    • You’re effectively bringing the ground closer to you and shortening the distance you need to lower with these props.
    • If this is still hard, try plank/pushup positions with your hands lifted higher. Have your hands on a deks or chair and work on building strength there. Here’s a blog post that will help you visually understand what this might look like: “How to get Better at Plank Pose”.
  • Here’s a youtube video about this if you want a visual:

Phase 2: Pausing

With this, I would just focus on core strength to start. Start incorporating forearm planks into your movement practice – see if you can work your way up to holding them for 1 minute. To do this:

  • Hold a forearm plank for 10 seconds – make sure your hips are in line with your shoulders and not too high or low
  • Take a 10 second break
  • Repeat this 6 times so that you hit 1 minute of total work. 
  • As this gets easier, increase the amount of time you’re holding the plank and match your breaks to that time (ex: 20 seconds of hold, 20 seconds of rest, 3 times = 1 min). Eventually it will get easier and you’ll be able to do 1 min plank holds. 

Phase 3: Pushing Up

This is a similar set up as phase 1. Take a bolster, yoga blocks, pillows – anything that you can lay on – this shortens the distance that you have to push yourself up. Rather than pushing up into a full plank, again, you’re going do a pushup with your knees down, which will decrease the load in your plank and make it easier to master. Here’s the setup:

  1. Start by laying down on your props with your hands in the pushup position. 
  2. Engage your core, start with your knees down, and push yourself up from there. 
  3. Don’t worry about lowering to the ground – only work on the pushup up part. 
  4. As this gets easier, remove the props and work from the ground or a lower prop. 

Once you master these 3 phases, Chaturanga and pushups will feel like nothing! 

What do you feel like is the hardest phase of Chaturanga for you to master? Drop me a comment and let me know!

P.S. If you want more basic information about what a chaturanga is, check out my blog post about all things chaturanga.

What is Mobility Work?

If you’ve been on my email list for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about my mobility class and the mobility work that I’m encouraging everyone to do. Maybe you even remember the name Functional Range Conditioning (FRC). Buuuuut you probably still have some questions so that’s what this post is all about. We’re going to talk about what mobility work – in this case specifically FRC – is, why it’s NOT yoga, and why you SHOULD 100% be incorporating it into your life.

What is mobility work?

Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) is a movement practice that affects your joints specifically. In super sciencey words, it’s isometric strength training for your joints, and then making sure you’re using your joints in every direction they’re meant to be used in. Let’s talk about the last part of that first, because it’s the easiest to get:

I say this all the time

Use it or lose it is REAL

FRC makes sure you don’t lose your mobility. It does this by involving very specific joint circles. These joint circles should be done every day, and the key is to make sure you’re not compensating anywhere else. You want to access your true range of motion, and when you compensate you’re no longer doing this. For example, you should be able to lift your arms above your head without your head pushing forwards or your back backbending, or your ribs jutting out. Most people struggle with this example in particular. 

But what is the isometric joint strength training part of FRC? Well, it’s what makes FRC so effective.

But what does Isometric even mean? 

The term isometric refers to the type of muscular contraction your muscle is performing. There are 3 types. 

Concentric, eccentric, and isometric. 

We see these 3 muscle contractions all the time in yoga and weightlifting. In yoga in particular we often perform a ton of isometric contractions without realizing it. Here’s what each means, briefly:

Concentric: You’re moving a joint in order to short the muscle in order to contract it. Think of a bicep curl: the elbow bends so the bicep can shorten and curl the hand towards you. The bicep is concentrically contracting.

Eccentric: You’re moving a joint to elongate a muscle in order to contract it. For example, the hinge of a deadlift is an eccentric contraction of your hamstring muscles. If you’re not sure what a deadlift looks like, just think of a forward fold in yoga – if you were to add weight to this, it would be an eccentric contraction of your hamstring muscle. Eccentrics are typically the hardest contraction to perform because you’re often fighting against gravity.

Isometric: No joint is moving, but your muscle is engaging. For example, holding a plank pose, your core, arms and glutes are engaging but you haven’t moved any joints in order to find that muscular engagement. Another example would be holding a warrior 2. Or warrior 1. Any hold of a standing pose really is an isometric contraction of your muscles. The act of getting into that pose (ie. The act of starting to bend your knee for warrior 2) is NOT an isometric, but once you start to hold it, it’s isometrics that are holding you in it.

SO if mobility work is isometric joint strength training, it means we’re working on the engagement of the muscles around that particular joint, and holding them in a particular position.

These are SMALL movements that appear like nothing from the outside but holy hell you WILL feel your muscles in ways you’ve never felt them before. They’ll cramp and you’ll most likely be sore the next day. BUT you will feel amazing.

So why is this different from yoga?

It certainly pulls from yoga. We stretch, and then we engage. But again, we’re working at the joint level. Yoga tends to affect larger muscles. You can think of a quad stretch (front of the thigh), or a hamstring stretch (back of the thigh). Often times in FRC, we’d be working where your thigh bone plugs into your hip. It’s a deeper, more specific stretch. It’s a deeper, more specific stretch and then on top of that, you add an isometric contraction. 

They both affect the nervous system, which is why they both work. To see change in movement, you need your brain and nervous system to be affected. But yoga tends to affect the nervous system from a flexibility standpoint, and FRC affects it from a mobility stand point.

If you’re not sure of the difference between mobility and flexibility, make sure you read my blog post all about this by clicking here

So why should you be incorporating this into your movement practice?

Other than the fact that myself and my students who have been doing it with me can 100% vouch for its effectiveness, it all goes back to use it or lose it and the nervous system.

In order for you to move your joints all over the place and everywhere they’re supposed to move, your body needs to feel safe doing so (cue the nervous system). Lots of things impact our body’s understanding of what safe means. If there’s a previous injury to an area, it will most likely be tighter than its counterpart on the other side. This is because your nervous system has kicked into gear to try to protect the area. It recognizes tissue damage, and to protect it, it locks down the muscles and tightens them to restrict movement. 

Tightness can also come from a general lack of stability in a particular area. A joint that lacks stability will often present itself as tightness, as your body will try to tighten the muscles to try to stabilize the joint, rather than learning how to engage its muscles to find that stability instead. You have to teach your body how to do this.

So how do you unlock your joints and teach your nervous system that movement is ok? How do you teach your body stability?

Isometrics. And therefore FRC.

You work on strengthening those tiny muscles around your joints. If your body feels strong at a joint, it feels safe. And when your body feels safe, it allows movement to happen. THIS is why FRC works. 

If you want to read more about the nervous system you can read my blog post here about why stretching isn’t always the answer for flexibility/mobility.

SO moral of the story: Do yoga. It’s good for you. But also add in FRC, because it will not only help your yoga practice, but it’s going to impact your life. 

We need our joints to function and to be healthy, especially as we age. FRC will affect your joints and help with aches and pains, it will help with movement, it will help with any exercise routine you do, and just help you live a healthier and more enjoyable life. 

I know this is a lot to take in so give it a few reads or drop me any questions you have in the comments below. I geek out about this stuff so I’m happy to discuss further!!

2 Exercises for a Strong and Healthy Body

These were chosen for 1 main reason – people tend to lack core stability, and people tend to lack hip stability. If you can increase these 2 areas of stability in your body, it will move better, more efficiently, and sometimes help with aches and pains.

2 Exercises for a Strong and Healthy Body:

Forearm Plank

In my opinion, forearm planks are one of the best exercises you can do to increase both core strength and core stability in one shot. If this is really hard for you, try building up to a minute – do 10 seconds of work, and 10 seconds of rest, until you’ve reach your 60 seconds of work. Continue adding to this as it gets easier – 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off, then 20 seconds on 20 seconds off, etc. until you’re up to your minute.

Things to Pay Attention to:

  • Elbows are stacked right underneath your shoulders
  • You’re pressing down into your forearms so you don’t feel like you’re sinking into your shoulders – it should feel like you’re lifting up and out of your shoulder joint
  • Your hips are in line with your shoulders – not lifting above towards the ceiling, not dropping below towards the ground
  • A way to make this easier: WIDEN YOUR FEET. The wider your feet are, the easier this will be.

Glute Lunges

Most people seem to need more hip stability exercises thrown into their routine, so here’s a glute strengthening exercise for you to try. Don’t worry about the balance here – we’re not focusing on that. Hold onto something so you can concentrate on working your glute muscles, and not be so focused on not falling over.

Things to Pay Attention to:

  • This is NOT the same thing as a yoga lunge. It is a SHORTER stance. Bring your back foot in. As the back knee bends it should be doing so pretty vertical or perpendicular to the ground.
  • Try to get all 10 toes to face forwards so you’re not turned in or out in your feet.
  • Your knees can go past your toes. In fact, they should.
  • Brace your core as you’re doing this. If you’re not sure how to brace your core, watch my short tutorial on YouTube.

If you have any questions about these exercises or anything at all feel free to drop a comment or reach out via email at kateformanyoga@gmail.com. Or just let me know how these felt for you and if they helped! I’d love to hear from you.

Is Yoga Good for Flexibility or Mobility?

So the short answer to this is that yoga is definitely more for your flexibility. Which helps your mobility. Confused? Yeah that’s probably because the words flexibility and mobility get thrown around interchangeably, but they actually mean 2 different things.

The difference between flexibility and mobility is that flexibility is passive range of motion and mobility is active range of motion.

What does passive range of motion and active range of motion even mean?

Passive range of motion means an outside force is bringing your body into a shape. It is your flexibility. It is typically easier.

Active range of motion means that your body is doing it itself. It is your mobility. It is typically harder.

A great example of this is tree pose:

If you were to grab your foot and place it on your thigh – that is your passive range of motion – your flexibility. An outside force (your hand) is forcing your leg into a particular range.

If you were to make this active, or more about your mobility – you would use just the leg to place the foot for tree pose. No help from your hand.

If you give this a try chances are the mobility version is going to be harder and you won’t get the foot as high. Ideally we want our passive and active range of motion to be similar in their ranges of motion for healthy strong stable joints.

So, is yoga good for flexibility or mobility?

The answer is both, but more primarily flexibility, which in turn will help your mobility. And it also depends on how it’s being taught and what the teacher is cuing you to feel.

Personally, I bring a lot of active mobility into my yoga classes because it’s an amazing compliment to the passive flexibility that yoga is focused on. Both are good. You need passive flexibility to have good mobility.

If you want to see this in action for yourself, click the link below and sign up for one of my group zoom yoga classes or dive in deep and join my group zoom mobility class. If you’re a brand new student of mine, your first class is on me! Just click the link below, find a class you want to join, click and sign up!

And as always if you have any questions about this post, yoga, mobility, or anything at all feel free to drop a comment or shoot me an email at kateformanyoga@gmail.com!

Should Your Shoulder Blades Lift in Yoga?

When you hear “Relax your shoulders” in a yoga class, are you actually relaxing them? Or are you pushing them down your back? I’ve found in my years of teaching that most people come to yoga thinking it’s never ok to lift their shoulders and shoulder blades. I’m here to tell you that your shoulder blades were meant to MOVE. That means up, down, side to side – all directions! It’s healthier to move them, and here is how you should be and why.

Why You Want Your Shoulder Blades to Move:

There’s an order of operations to how the shoulder joint moves and stabilizes, and it starts with our shoulder blades. I want to make the sciency biomechanic stuff easy for you to understand, so here it goes:

We want stability in our joints. It helps our body feel safe, and when our body feels safe, there’s less of a chance it will tighten up or tell you that something hurts.

The thing in charge of stabilizing the shoulder joint is called your rotator cuff.

Your rotator cuff can’t do it’s job super well unless other parts of the shoulder are moving properly. It’s one of the last things to fire in the order of operations, but one of the most important things TO fire.

Here’s the order of operations:

Shoulder blade moves into position.

Your rotator cuff engages to help pull your upper arm bone back.

Upper arm bone pulls back and creates a safe, strong, stable shoulder joint.

So How Should the Shoulder Blade Be Moving?

This is where things get a little funky – when your arms are above your head, your shoulder blade goes both up and down. Another way of putting it is that the rotate forwards and up. Weird and confusing, right? Let me show you:

In the image above, you can see the upward rotation of the outer part of the shoulder blade. But you’re not lifting it straight up – it’s going around and up, while the inner part of the shoulder blade – the part closest to your spine – goes down.

Watch the video below to see this in action. Scroll to time stamp 0:26 to see what it looks like overhead:

See how the outside of the shoulder blade wraps forwards and up, but the inside part of the shoulder blade has to actually rotate down? So when you’re lifting your arms above your head and then forcing your shoulders down your back, you’re jamming up that shoulder blade and preventing it from doing it’s job – lifting the arm, and signaling to the rotator cuff that it’s time to stabilize your joint.

I know this is a lot to take in, but it’s so important!! We don’t always want to be forcing our shoulders down! They’re supposed to move and stopping them from doing so can sometimes create pain in our shoulders.

Give it a try right now:

Reach your arms above your head and try to feel the rotation of the outer shoulder blade wrapping forwards and up, while the inner part of the shoulder blade goes down to allow for the elevation of the outer part of the shoulder blade.

How did that feel?

Now try it the other way –

Reach your arms up and push your shoulder blades down your back. Doesn’t feel too good does it?

So from now on in yoga, life – everything – make sure you allow your shoulder blades movement. They’re supposed to go up and down, side to side – they move in every direction!

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email at kateformanyoga@gmail.com and let me know how this felt, but more importantly if you have any questions. I know it can get confusing when you dive deep into anatomy and I want to make it easy for you to understand.
error: Content is protected !!